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The Power of the Mind

If you ever had any doubts about the way your beliefs shape your experience of life, well, doubt no more!

The following study undertaken by the Californian Institute of Technology gives us an insight into just how powerful our beliefs really are. So powerful that they will contravene common sense, and cause us to act and feel in ways that do not reflect reality.

Researchers presented subjects with five identical red wines and told them that the wines varied in price from a cheap $5 a bottle to a more expensive $90 a bottle. In reality, the wine was $35 a bottle.

The results were very interesting. Particularly so for me, as I work with clients in looking at their belief systems and how these beliefs shape their lives. Not only did the participants in the test think that the expensive wine was the best, but MIR brain scans showed that the enjoyment level was actually higher for the wine that was believed to be $90 per bottle. That is, the belief fooled the brain completely.

This shows that it wasn’t just the price tag that tricked the test drinkers. Their brains were fooled into believing that the five “different” wines tasted different. When asked to rank the pleasantness of the wines, participants ranked the most expensive wine as the best and the cheapest as the least pleasant. More importantly, brain scans showed that drinkers actually enjoyed the “$90” wine best. As one of the researchers, Antoni Rangel, quipped: “By manipulating prices we can change how wine tastes without changing the wine.”

This has enormous repercussions for therapy. Many emotional problems are caused by false beliefs we hold about ourselves and the world we live in. In addressing these beliefs, we can move to a healthier mindspace and increased wellbeing. The power of our thoughts and beliefs are paramount as this simple, but revealing experiment so clearly shows.

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